• J.M. Young

Fiction: The Sleeping Mind

Photo Source: Stocksnap.io

There is a sunset lit ocean that swirls in orange until it melts into cream and drains like bath water.

Sunshine burns through the comforter, roasting you and the man beneath it. Both of your heads squish together like marshmallows.

Balls of fire hang suspended in the black sky. A bird bursts through a bag of rice and flies throughout the grocery store.

Bright white mannequins crawl from under the bed. Their hands are hot and you are not afraid.

Rays of light pour through the blinds as a lemur chases your cat about the house. Your family laughs in ripples.

A dragon breathes heat and flames, then dances over a bridge into a room of lightning. Your hair stands up straight and you press your hand to a panel of needles that don’t pierce your flesh. They feel like chainmail.

A short candle flickers and you feel a man’s hands on your skin. Suddenly the picture fragments. No. Frantically, you try to tune out the patterned knocking. The picture frays into something new. Heated water. It's steaming.

The knocking feels like a rock hitting your side, but it has taken an audible quality. A beeping. An incessant beeping. Consciousness is straining forward. No. You fire synapses to the arm while keeping the eyelids shut. Hit the button. Shut it down. The pictures are hazy. Discombobulated. They come like snapshots instead of movies and you cling to them desperately. The characters begin to morph, no longer players in a scene but separate and distinct voices.

“We have to get up.”

But you struggle against Consciousness, hoping to swan dive into another dream. None of the images stay long enough. They are like static radio. You fight to hold on to these last moments.

“You know that we will sleep again tonight.” Consciousness reminds you, gently.

“But it will not be the same!” You wail. “These people. Who I am. These places. They won’t exist. They won’t be remembered. They will be nothing!”

“They’re not real.” The Waking Mind causes the body to roll over.

But you know better. You’ve swum in the Dreamsicle ocean and freed a child chained to its depths.

You love the man that holds you in the warm bed. You love his full smile and long arms.

You know every detail of the gray aisles and can see every particle of brown rice.

You can feel the heat of the faceless ones as they crawl and pulse.

You know the human-sized lemur won’t leave your house. Your family is as real as they’ve ever been. Maybe more so.

The heaviness of the needles is pleasant on your skin.

The man and the candle. They must be allowed to live. You want to cry as you panic and promise yourself you won’t forget. You will come back tonight.

Consciousness nods reassuringly but pieces of yourself are vanishing. There is nothing to hold on to. Bit by bit you are no more.

Promise. Promise you won’t forget. Bring them back tonight. The man and the candle must be allowed to live. Promise.


You stretch and prop the body up on its elbows. You make the arm and leg muscles tighten and release. With the Sleeping Mind gone, there is so much more room. You still feel sluggish.

“Coffee” You command.

The body obeys and pads its way downstairs. The eyes recognize their mother in the kitchen. The ears hear “Did you sleep well?”

You make the mouth open in a yawn. You require more oxygen to function this early. “Yes.”

“Have any good dreams?”

You tell the hand to press start on the coffee machine. The button lights up red. You feel a tickle somewhere.

The cat jumps on the windowsill and presses its haunches to the plane of glass. It is warm from the sunrise. That tickle again.

You make the mouth speak and the shoulders shrug. “I never really remember any of my dreams.”

J.M. Young is a graduate of The Florida State University with Theatre and English degrees. At Orlando Repertory Theatre, she gained professional experience as a co-playwright for “Writes of Spring” (an annual creative writing program for students K-12), and as a writer of original shorts for the annual Rockin' REP REC Fest. She has also been published in the Wild Musette Press.

Find her at @jmy117.